No law to say Sarawakians cannot talk about secession, says party

Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan.

KUCHING: It is not against the law to speak about independence or secession, Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan said.

He said many legal experts are of the opinion the Sedition Act 1948 is only applicable to sedition or seditious materials against one’s own country.

“Sabah and Sarawak were countries of their own before they became part of Malaya.

“The issue now is, is Malaysia a country? It is clear that nothing is mentioned in the Federal Constitution to say that Malaysia is a country.

“The Federal Constitution only says Malaysia is a federation comprising Sabah and Sarawak and the states of Malaya,” he said.

Voon said there is also no provision under the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 or the Inter-Governmental Committee Report that touched on the right of Sabah and Sarawak to secede from Malaysia.

Under international law, he said, there is an intrinsic right for colonies or part of a region to break away from the parent country or region if they are subjected to political suppression, oppression and domination by the parent country or region.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Parliament yesterday that action would only be taken under the Sedition Act against those who called for Sarawak’s secession from Malaysia if they jeopardised public order and security.

“In line with the government’s policy to promote freedom of speech as per Item 1 of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, the use of provisions under the Sedition Act will only be utilised in cases where an act of sedition creates a situation that is beyond control that it jeopardises the security and public order,” he said.

Movement of Change for Sarawak founder Francis Paul Siah said Mahathir’s reply to Lanang MP Alice Lau in Parliament on the state’s call for secession could be taken as a “threat” or “advice”.

“I think it would be healthy for all to see the prime minister’s response as an advice,” he told FMT.

He said although it is true the voices for secession among Sarawakians are growing louder by the day, the proponents of independence had always carried out their activities in a peaceful and orderly manner.

“Rallies organised by pro-independence Sarawakians are evidence of this, which the Sarawak police can easily testify to. There were no clashes of any kind reported at all. This is the Sarawakian way,” he said.

Siah said Putrajaya should go one step further by repealing the Sedition Act 1948, which he described as “archaic” as the provisions in the Penal Code would suffice.

He also criticised Lau for her question to the prime minister in Parliament.

“I am shocked she has found it necessary to ask what action could be taken against her fellow Sarawakians for their pro-independence stand.

“Her question, which can be considered ‘anti-Sarawakian’, borders on foolishness and naivety.”

He said even if Lau had disagreed with the pro-independence group in the state, she should have let her DAP colleagues from the peninsula pose such a question.